A very powerful episode of Drop Dead Diva will feature Tyler Jacob Moore as Dan Abraham, a gay male who is arrested for donating his sperm due to the 2005 California law prohibiting gay men from donating. During a recent conference call, TV Equals learned from Moore and Drop Dead Diva executive producers Josh Berman and Craig Zadan about Moore’s character and the importance of the episode.
What made Moore take the role
Moore wanted to be a part of the episode after he read the script. “I mean, as an actor you sadly read a lot of crap out there.[W]hen I read the script for this initially, it’s always refreshing to read something that is actually in general, you know, the writing as well is well-crafted. But then on top of that, to read something that is actually.fun and can be fun and silly but it’s trying to say something, kind of like, you know, a spoonful of sugar for the masses. And I think that this episode did that with the issue of gay men not being able to donate sperm,” said Moore. “I immediately wanted to commend [Berman and Zadan] and do this role. And I thought, you know, I could play – I could be this man pretty easily just on the idea that, you know, not know that this is a law and being kind of shocked by the whole process. [T]he character goes along just kind of being flabbergasted by the fact that we still have these types of laws on the books.”
The law in question
“[O]riginally when I read it I thought that they made it up because it seemed like such a silly rule,” he said when discussing the episode. “But then [when] reading more about the part and getting to know the creators and producers and things like it and did a little homework of my own then I in turn found out that it is in fact absolutely true.”
Moore also said he was surprised to find out that the law was passed recently. “[O]riginally thought that it was going to be an old law like, you know, homosexual men not being able to donate blood, which was passed, like in 1982. The FDA did it when there was, you know, a massive HIV scare and it was, you know, predominantly, you know, homosexual men were carriers and so they – everybody was nervous and nobody knew how to do anything,” he said. “Whereas this law was passed in 2005, which at that point, we had multiple tests,.we’re able to present and screen HIV from, you know, any potential carriers or donators. So, really, the more I read about it the more I just thought that it was.hard to explain the scientific reasoning behind it and seemed.like a very negative and biased law that actually, you know, had no reason or place in the modern day.”
What made Moore right for the part
Berman and Zadan said Moore’s down-to-earth quality made him right for the role. “Well I was a huge fan of his from Shameless,” said Berman. “I just loved the way he played the part and he’s so grounded, he’s so real and it was important for this character to really feel like any – like, I want everyone who watches the show to feel like they know Dan Abraham.[Y]ou just – and he – the notion of the everyday man being caught up in this maelstrom of crazy legislation was so compelling to us as writers. And then Tyler was our first choice for the part and when he quickly signed on it really all came together.
Where are the activists?
Because gay men donating sperm is a big issue, you might wonder why no one is talking about it in politics. Berman has a theory about the lack of activism. “[T]here are so many issues out there and a lot of them become agendas for different groups. And this is an issue that just affects us in the most intimate aspects of our lives, it just – it’s procreation, right,” said Berman. “There’s not going to be lobbying groups that care about this. There’s not going to be big government entities or charitable foundations or organizations that make the way we procreate the number one issue. So this is kind of a bit of homophobia that got into our legal system that really isn’t the primary concern of any one group or entity out there. And I think it’s ironic that it’s taking a little show like Drop Dead Diva and the passion of people like Craig Zadan and Tyler Jacob Moore to get behind it to bring an issue that no one knows about to light. And I’m really proud that this show can expose inherent homophobia in the law and at the same time be entertaining and exciting to the viewer.”
“I think with discrimination like this we always take, you know, maybe a step forward and then we take a step backwards or many steps backwards. You know, not to get political, I don’t want to get political but, for instance, this week with Paul Ryan becoming the vice presidential candidate, he said that if they take office that he wants to [reinstate] Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Zadan said. “He wants to, you know, put it back into operation the way it was before [President] Obama repealed it in the opposite direction. So, can you imagine after all that everybody’s been through with this law getting repealed to reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It’s going to cause the chaos and the madness that would cause in the military by doing that, and yet that’s what he’s saying he’s going to do. So, when you ask a question about something like this, there’s so much prejudice and ignorance involved, you can’t really follow what makes somebody do something like this.”
Make sure to watch this special episode of Drop Dead Diva Sunday, August 19 at 9/8c on Lifetime.